Liverpool addiction centre wins hearts and minds

Entrepreneur Kate Stewart opened Damien John Kelly House in Liverpool a year ago to help those with alcohol and drug addictions – and, at first, local people were not happy. Tony McDonough reports

Kate Stewart
Liverpool entrepreneur Kate Stewart opened Damien John Kelly House a year ago


Entrepreneur Kate Stewart has hailed the support of a Liverpool community after her alcohol and drug recovery centre secured consent to stay open permanently.

Ms Stewart, who also the owner of the Sandon Hotel next to Liverpool FC, opened Damien John Kelly House via her Vitality Homes venture in Wavertree 12 months age. Its aim was to provide abstinence recovery programmes for those battling drug and alcohol addiction.

Initially, there was strong objections from many people in the local community. A group of objectors attended at meeting of the planning committee to voice their concerns. Consequently, the committee granted the Wavertree Road projects was given permission to open for just 12 months, with strict conditions.

However, now the council has granted permanent planning consent. During those 12 months Ms Stewart says she, her team and the 23 men who have been given support by the facility, have won the community around.

At the virtual planning committee meeting last week there were no objections at all with local residents actually praising DJK House for making a huge difference and changing peoples’ lives. Three local residents attended the virtual planning committee and more than 30 sent letters and emails of support.

Residents of DJK House have actively engaged with the community, taking up activities surrounding arts, culture and sport, and got involved with the Love Wavertree team and the area’s Rose Garden Project.

Ms Stewart said: “We understood the initial conditions placed on Damien John Kelly House due to the opposition in the beginning, but I knew that it would only be a matter of time before we changed people’s opinions for the better.

“We can’t thank the local residents enough for allowing us to prove how positive DJK House is for the community and how essential it is in helping people on their abstinence journey’s. The whole team at Vitality Homes has worked incredibly hard over the last year and that hard work has paid off today.”

Vitality Homes’ Head of Service, Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, added: “We’re all so grateful that the planning committee took this chance on us and gave us a year to show them and the local community that we could make something really special happen here.”

And of the residents of the facility, Sam, also said: “This is great news, we love living in Wavertree and getting involved with the Rose Garden Project and the Love Wavertree team. It will be great to feel more settled and be a permanent positive presence here.”

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